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Scream 2 (1997)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Slasher Running Time: 2 hrs.

Release Date: December 12th, 1997 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Wes Craven Actors: Heather Graham, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Arquette, Timothy Olyphant, Rebecca Gayheart, Jamie Kennedy, Liev Schreiber

B

ased on the book “The Woodsboro Murders” by Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), “Stab” is now a major motion picture, unfolding in a movie theater to mimic the events of the first “Scream.” Maureen (Jada Pinkett) and Phil (Omar Epps) are the token black couple – rarely seen in white horror cinema – watching the film thanks to free advance movie tickets and a lack of interest in Sandra Bullock. “Scream 2” is even more comedic than its predecessor, spoofing itself doubly as much as before in its attempt to shake up the generic nature of slashers. But in doing so, it nearly makes 2000’s “Scary Movie” – an actual, full-on parody – completely pointless.

Sydney (Neve Campbell) is now at Windsor College when a copycat killer picks up where Ghost Face left off. Everyone who lived through the first one returns; having watched the original “Scream” is essential to understanding this sequel. Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), now working for the national TV station “Up To Date,” is still antagonistic towards Sydney, prodding her into an interview with the exonerated man (Liev Schreiber) whom she accused of murdering her mother. Dwight “Dewey” Riley (David Arquette) returns as well, partially paralyzed, but just as accidentally intrusive to the plot. When bodies start piling up, clues point to the victims being targeted because of their first names – names that match the original Woodsboro deaths.

Another abundant smattering of then-popular teen stars appears for fodder and cameos: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cici, Joshua Jackson as a film student, Timothy Olyphant, Rebecca Gayheart, Portia de Rossi, Tori Spelling, Luke Wilson, Heather Graham, and more. The masked killer is still clumsy, likes to run up and down stairs, and waves a knife around aimlessly. Where the first production mocked horror movies while trying to be one itself, “Scream 2” is just wholly absurd – though it’s so bad that it’s mildly fun.

A theme further examined in “Scream 2” is that of violence in movies provoking violence in real life. Ironically, the “real life” killer is killing to copy the movie – a movie that copies another movie. Nearly every role gains a doppelganger, including an annoying, wild-eyed, grinning-idiot partygoer; a kid with a video camera; the unbelieving boyfriend; a blonde-haired innocent; the police chief; Gale’s cameraman; Gale herself (with a pushy, challenging local reporter, Debbie Salt, played by Laurie Metcalf); and stereotypical campus friends. It’s almost as if “Scream 2” is a remake. The other element explored in more detail is Gale and Dewey’s growing romance, which is laughably ludicrous.

This time around, the music is particularly cheesy and the tone shifts all the way into musical (like a twisted take on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”). Overdramatic opera riffs, Spaghetti Western jingles, and twanging love notes sprinkle the background. Anything but seriousness frequents this picture. The violence is once again bloody and brutal, but the hokiness of every situation, the ditzy sorority sisters, the destructive chases through houses, the overuse of cell phone trickery (including physical assaults with receivers), the multitude of random red herrings, and the unexplained vanishing of the bad guy, are so exaggerated and riddled with contrivances that “Scream 2” can only really be considered a comedy.

The problem is, it’s not that funny. At least, the movie-within-a-movie angle and the creative liberties taken with details in Gale’s book are somewhat clever. Plus, acknowledging that sequels are generally subpar and require certain extra gimmicks, such as a higher body count and more complex, bloodier death sequences, reveals a wry self-awareness to the storytelling mediocrity.

– Mike Massie

 

 



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